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Contact Your Senator to Prevent Devastating Cuts to Immunization Programs

June 15, 2017 1 comment

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Every Child By Two has a long history of advocating for immunization funding and strong immunization policies. As the Senate is now considering two crucial pieces of legislation — the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget — we are calling upon the public to speak out in support of #PreventionProtection. Both of these pieces of legislation could impact vaccine programs in a way that limits access for millions of Americans.

It is critical that we help Senators understand the impact of their legislation on public and individual health before they finalize the bill language. Time is of the essence, so we are encouraging everyone to take action this week.

Please call AND email your Senators TODAY with this critical message:

Call your Senators to say:

I am a constituent and am calling to urge Senator X to ensure CDC’s immunization programs continue to be fully funded, both through direct appropriations and through preservation of the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

It is also critical to preserve first dollar coverage in private health plans and Medicaid. Coverage for vaccines is critical to our nation’s health and integral to accessing cost-saving and potentially life-saving vaccines.

Please support public health funding and oppose any aspects of the American Health Care Act which would slash these critical investments.

To ensure your Senator is getting the message, follow-up with an email that reads:

I am writing to express my concern about public health funding. While vaccines may not be specifically targeted, the American Health Care Act and the president’s budget will have consequences for immunization efforts.

The President’s proposed budget would cut vaccination programs by $82 million. Should Congress eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF), this would further compound the problem, eliminating another $324.4 million the CDC utilizes to combat vaccine-preventable diseases. The CDC uses this money to: purchase vaccines and manage supply; monitor vaccine safety; educate; conduct disease surveillances and respond to outbreaks; and support funding for state, territory, and city immunization programs.

Pair this loss of funding with the American Health Care Act’s proposed cuts to Medicaid and we could face a public health crisis.

We are already facing costly outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases: the country is dealing with ongoing outbreaks of measles in California, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington.  In Minnesota over 7,500 people were exposed and 70 cases were confirmed in the past two months. Since 2014, over 1,000 cases of measles were detected here in the U.S. The CDC estimates that it costs approximately $140,000 to contain each individual case of measles ($143.5 million since 2014). And every single measles case requires follow up.

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Measles is the “canary in the coal mine.” Because the disease is so highly contagious, when measles immunization rates begin to slip below 95 percent, we begin to see outbreaks. It is often the first sign of other serious vaccine-preventable outbreaks.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, cases are on the rise. And several universities in the U.S. experienced outbreaks of meningococcal serogroup B disease, a devastating illness that causes lifelong debilitation or death.

Gaps in vaccine infrastructure also leave us susceptible to emerging threats such as the Zika virus, which can cause devastating birth defects when a woman contracts the disease while pregnant. It is essential that we not only develop more and better vaccines, but also maintain a sound infrastructure and capacity to deliver and track those vaccines within the healthcare system.

It has been reported that the U.S. spends nearly $27 billion annually treating just four vaccine-preventable diseases that afflict adults over 50 years of age: influenza; pertussis; pneumococcal disease; and shingles. The majority of these avoidable costs are borne by federal health insurance programs.

Vaccinating, however, is cost saving. For each dollar invested in the childhood immunization program, the U.S. saves over $3 in direct medical costs and $10 ten dollars in societal costs. Government programs play a key role in the success of immunization programs. For example, over the past 20 years the Vaccines for Children program has prevented 322 million illnesses, 732,000 deaths, and nearly $1.4 trillion in societal costs.

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The solution is in your hands:

  • Ensure CDC’s immunization program continues to be fully funded, both through direct appropriations and through preservation of the PPHF.
  • Continue first dollar coverage in private health plans and Medicaid. Coverage for vaccines is critical to our nation’s health and integral to accessing cost-saving and potentially life-saving vaccines.

To find the contact information for your Senators, please use Who Is My Representative?

Please also consider participating in Trust for America’s Health “Day of Virtual Advocacy” in support of the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) by clicking here.

They are requesting that those individuals or organizations with Twitter accounts consider tagging their Senators in any of these sample tweets using the #ProtectPrevention hashtag:

  • The Prevention Fund is 12% of CDC’s Budget. Eliminating it decimates core public health programs #ProtectPrevention
  • Chronic disease = 70% of deaths & 86% of healthcare costs. Reduce spending by investing in prevention. #ProtectPrevention
  • The Prevention Fund has invested > $6 billion in resources to states & local organizations to promote good health #ProtectPrevention
  • Oppose the AHCA, which would eliminate the Prevention Fund #ProtectPrevention
  • The Prevention Fund helps prevent deadly infectious disease outbreaks; would be eliminated by AHCA #ProtectPrevention

For more background information about the proposed cuts to prevention funding, refer to the following partner resources:

Association of Immunization Managers: Potential Impact of the Elimination of PPHF Funds (on the 64 State, Local and Territorial Immunization Programs)

Adult Vaccine Access Coalition:  Health Reform Fact Sheet, Health and Economic Benefits of Adult Immunizations

Thank you again for your support of immunizations!